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Voluntary Use of N95-Respirators

Employees who choose to wear N95-respirators on campus must follow these guidelines.

A job hazard assessment is necessary to determine if a respirator may be required for your work. Respirator use is required when exposures reach a hazardous level. Respirators may also be required if you have been told by COEM (Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine) that you must use one to perform your work.

Sometimes, respirators can be encouraged to provide an additional level of comfort and protection even when exposures do not reach hazardous levels. This is considered Voluntary Use of a Respirator. Some approved uses on campus are for nuisance levels of:

  • Dust during cleaning activities
  • Small amounts of mold clean-up
  • Wildfire smoke
  • COVID-19 Protection

If you are unsure if a respirator may be required for your work, consult with your supervisor and follow the instructions on How to Get a Respirator.


  • N95-respirators are one common type of filtering facepiece respirator (FFR). When used properly, N95-respirators can reduce exposure to airborne particulates.
  • FFRs do not provide protection against chemical vapors or gases.

Voluntary Use Requirements for Employees

Voluntary Use Requirements of N95 and Other Respirators For Employees
N95-Respirators Other Respirators (Half-Face, Full-Face, PAPR)


Per campus policy, voluntary use of all other respirators requires: 

  • Medical surveillance  
  • Respirator Fit Testing 
  • Training 

To request voluntary use of a half or full-face respirator, send an email to 


Medical Surveillance

Tight-fitting respirators are generally safe to use; however, they may not be appropriate for some individuals with certain medical conditions which may include certain pre-existing respiratory conditions. Some physiologic effects of respirator use include: 
  • Pulmonary effects: 
    • Increased breathing resistance 
    • Increased work of breathing 
    • Decreased endurance 
    • Decrease in exercise performance 
  • Cardiac effects: 
    • Increased cardiac work 
    • Increased heart rate 
    • Increased blood pressure 
    • Claustrophobia 
    • Anxiety 
    • Hyperventilation 
If you would like to consult with a medical provider regarding your ability to wear a respirator, contact EH&S Occupational Health at COEM.

Regulations and Policies

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